Monday, 8 December 2008

What I do

I’ve told you what I don’t do. Now I’ll get to what my life as a garden designer does involve.

Communication – I spend a great deal of time talking to clients, contractors and suppliers. I need to understand clients’ requirements, explain my solutions, and keep them informed of project progress and any changes. I also need to communicate with the contractors who build my gardens and the other suppliers who provide plants, pots, etc.

Getting inspiration – looking around me as I walk anywhere not just at gardens, but in towns, art galleries, parks, museums to get ideas.

Taking surveys – measuring the whole site including the house and using surveying equipment to ascertain level changes throughout the garden.

Designing – preparing scale plans of client’s gardens, planting schemes, construction details, lighting, irrigation, and anything else that need a drawing.

Managing projects – my jobs are all projects that need managing. I often have several projects running simultaneously, all at different stages of implementation and I need to know the status of each one. I need to be able to switch roles comfortably – one minute I am at the drawing board preparing a master plan the next I’m on site overseeing some part of the build process, then I may go and see a potential new client, after that I’m off talking to my steel fabrication man, then I might have to prepare a fee quotation or chase up some material samples. Never a dull moment!

Setting out – when the garden is built I lay out the plants on the borders as they are shown on the planting plan and then shuffle them about until I am happy with their positions. Then whoever is doing the planting knows exactly where I want them to be planted.

Choosing plants – this is fun. I go to wholesale plant nurseries whenever I’ve got time to get inspiration and choose the best plants to go in clients’ gardens.

Sourcing materials – each garden has a unique look and feel and I spend a lot of time looking at different materials and suppliers.

Sourcing the finishing touches – statuary, pots, furniture all the details that go into finishing off the garden.

Administration – I’m running a business and that carries with it the usual dull overheads of administration and record keeping.

Continuous professional development – attending training courses and seminars to ensure my skills stay up to date.

Driving - I design gardens throughout Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Hampshire and London, so I spend quite a bit of time in my car driving around visiting clients and keeping an eye on any live projects.

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